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Are Real Madrid Better In The Champions League?

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Last year, the answer would have been yes. Absolutely yes. Real Madrid went from a team eliminated from the Last 16 to a team that made a solid run to the semi-finals who were defeated by the eventual champions. And that was only Mourinho's first year, his "transitional" year, as coach.

Now, as we are into the group stage of this year's UEFA Champions League, madridistas have high hopes. And we have a right too, because in addition to Mourinho's promise that his teams always perform better during his second year (a phenomenon that is startlingly and happily accurate), this Real Madrid side looks younger, fitter, stronger, more experienced, and hungrier than ever.

So far, los Blancos are undefeated in the group stage. The curtain was raised with their 1-0 win over Dynamo Zagreb in Croatia followed by two 3-0 victories over both Ajax and Lyon. During all three matches Real was mostly dominant and created chances. It is a solid start for a side that is expected to top its group and their progression to the Last 16 of the competition is almost guaranteed.

Part of this early success is due to the great form the White has been in. After a week that we all try to forget in their national league (a loss then a draw), the team has bounced back, and has found the net and dominated the majority of their matches in both La Liga and the Champions League. Part of this is due to the resurgence of Higuain and Kaka, which has started quite a competition for starting spots.

Whether Real can continue this run is expected but not guaranteed. With old foes like Barcelona (would add Manchester United but their 6-1 defeat to their neighbors is hard to forget), and new faces like Manchester City set to pose huge obstacles in the way of Real Madrid's elusive decima, the team is going to have to be consistent and injury-free if they want to make a serious bid for this year's title. Not many Real Madrid squads have a chance of overcoming such strong (especially Catalan) opposition, but this team is certainly one of them.

I know we always say, "This the year!!!" But to be honest, 2011-2012 sure could be.

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